Languagecrime.

I know I said no more blogging, but some things are out of my control. Tim Goeglein must have a lot of spare time on his hands there in the rapidly delaminating Bush White House, because he’s a machine lately. A machine, I tell you.

OK, a really boring machine:

What makes for a good life? What is the measure of true greatness in the human life? Can it be measured or weighed? What is the purpose of it all, of the life well-lived?

Tell us, Rev. Tim.

The Westminster Confession of Faith famously concludes that the purpose of a life well-lived is “to know God and love him forever.” This is in congress with the traditional values of filial piety and family responsibility as the cornerstones of a successful life.

And the eyes in the pews glaze over. What did Mom put in the crockpot before we left for church? Oh, right. Pot roast.

I remember reading Plato’s “Republic” for the first time at Indiana University in Bloomington. The whole aim of the book is to show that justice and the virtues of wisdom, courage and moderation are in everyone’s best interest and are required for true happiness.

Moderation! Ha! Funny. Most of the artists Tim likes to occasionally rhapsodize over lived highly immoderate lives. But I guess no one ever said they were “truly” happy, either.

This search begins anew, I suppose, with each person who comes to ask himself the fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What separates man from the animals? Is man a slave to his desires? What is the soul? What is the function of human reason and the ability to think? Do we have a higher nature that can rise above greed and lust? Does might make right? Do we have a higher purpose than self-gratification? Should we ever return harm with harm? What is a moral principle? Does moral law precede civil law, and if so, every time?

I remind you: This guy works for Karl Rove. Asking himself if moral law precedes civil law. Only when there’s a presidential signing statement.

The wonderful thing about questions like these is that they are really problems, at least at one remove, that are not solved. Rather they must be lived with each decision made. So while there are new and improved aorta valves that can be surgically implanted, there is not a new and improved program that can be downloaded on a person’s hard drive that will solve the problems he will face in life.

Tim cooks with the Genius Sauce, at least where his metaphors are concerned.

OK, I’m going to spare you most of the rest. Shorter verson: Blah blah blah “philosopher Aristotle,” blah blah blah Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus, blah blah blah Clara Barton blah Abraham Lincoln, blah blah George Orwell. Wait, Orwell?

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the protagonists in the totalitarian society employed “newspeak,” the inversion of words to create false meaning. “War is peace,” “good is bad,” “moral is immoral” are merely a few of the possible inversions.

Wrong. Newspeak wasn’t the inversion of words to create false meaning. The goal of Orwell’s Newspeak was to remove all shades of meaning from words, to enforce a brutal simplicity that would discourage the consideration of nuance. Good, ungood, doubleplusungood. For a guy who serves a social movement that has virtually outlawed the color gray (except when it comes to torture), this takes some real cojones. Wait, Orwell advised against euphemism. So let’s just say it: Brass balls. Family good, homos bad!

Let’s pause for a minute and consider how much Orwell would have hated the following phrase —

While Orwell passed this mortal coil years ago,

— and skip ahead. More name-dropping (Wordsworth, John Buchan*, Theodore Roosevelt, God), blah blah blah. More rhetorical questions (Or rather is it Providence who enters into time, raising up great men and women as instruments in his hand?). And then, praise Jesus, we come to the end:

Seeking and living a good life matters profoundly. Greatness abounds.

Guess what the headline on the piece was?

Seeking and living a good life matters profoundly.

Well, you really can’t blame an editor for giving up sometimes.

* Did you know Buchan’s title was “The Rt Hon. The Lord Tweedsmuir?” I didn’t. I think we should start calling Tim that.

Posted at 10:52 am in Current events |
 

31 responses to “Languagecrime.”

  1. Cathy Dee said on August 9, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I am ROTF that only Tim G. could get Nancy “praising Jesus.” Some kind of poetic justice there.

  2. alex said on August 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    The life well lived, courtesy of the life unexamined. Here’s hoping Miss Giggy hooks up with a good psychoanalyst, sheds the beard and the babies and Karl Rove and finally gets what he really wants up his ass besides that stick. Before leaving this mortal coil, of course.

  3. LA mary said on August 9, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    What crap.
    Maybe some other evangelist will croak and he can be the medieval staffer again.

  4. MichaelG said on August 9, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Nance, I just wasted several minutes reading that idiot’s blatherings. You can quote him if you want, but I won’t be following the link next time. My head is still spinning from just reading it. Imagine what his must be like.

  5. LA mary said on August 9, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Maybe he’s the guy the fake journalist/marine/male escort was visiting at the White House.

  6. nancy said on August 9, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    In the house of our president there are many closets. Let’s not go too far with the innuendo.

  7. brian stouder said on August 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Rhetorical question: if we could ask him, what would he say was his subject, and what was his theme?

    Aside from that, a News-Sentinel style question: do they capitalize pronoun references to God? ‘Cause in this passage, they didn’t, although they did capitalize “Scripture” and later on “Providence”…

    Men and women of faith seek answers to the large questions of the good life through an ongoing conversation with God. We address him humbly and with forbearance in the language of prayer, and he addresses us and answers us in the still small voice of the language of Scripture.

  8. nancy said on August 9, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    In my experience, the editorial page follows its own style, which is pretty much whatever they decide it is on a day-to-day basis. They don’t send their copy through any desk other than their own — and since the department is now down to one person, “they” is the wrong word to use. It’s always been like that, and most of the time it works; Leo is old-skool enough that he can be trusted with the language.

    Where they drove me insane, though, was how lightly edited most of these guest columns were (other than cuts for length and libel). One of their regulars liked to write about what people around town were reading. She never checked titles for accuracy, and neither did anyone else. And so I’d open the paper and see that so-and-so was reading “Memoirs of a Geisha Girl,” or “Snow Falling on Cedar Trees,” or some such. I’d point it out between editions and get a what-can-you-do shrug, and they’d make the fix.

    As for subject and theme, your guess is as good as mine. What’s it about? An examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the good life. What’s it really about? Something for the reverend to talk about with my mother after church on Sunday. In other words, halo-polishing.

  9. brian stouder said on August 9, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Yes – the “What does it really mean?” question is the deal-breaker in this case, given the source of the sermon

  10. alex said on August 9, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Lord Turdsmear. Think I can get used to that.

  11. LA mary said on August 9, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Off topic:
    I would like to hear others’ opinions about something that just happened to me.
    I brought a question to my new boss regarding policy. He had on his desk his pay stub, and not only did he not make any effort to put it away, he sort of casually moved a couple of other objects which made it easier for me to see. He made a speaker phone call to get some information to help me with my question, and just left that pay stub right there, under my nose.
    He makes three times as much as I do.
    What does anyone make of this? Is it the obvious “mine is bigger than yours” thing? Or was he really unaware of what he was doing?

  12. nancy said on August 9, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    He’s saying, “Mine is THREE times bigger than yours.”

    I hate hate hate it when that happens. People really need to be more discreet — and bosses need to have coherent pay scales, too.

  13. brian stouder said on August 9, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I think the chances that he was ‘unaware’ are somewhere between ZERO and ZERO.ZERO ZERO ZERO ZERO ONE

    Maybe it’s just an idiosyncracy of mine, but I IMMEDIATELY put my paycheck (still in envelope) in my pocket, and if I open the thing at work, I would NEVER EVER EVER leave it laying on my desk!! (the reason I rarely open it is because after they’re distributed, you can hear the envelopes being ripped open, and I don’t want even that much information going out!)

    And at bonus time – when you really really want to see what’s in there – I go to the facilities, and then send a coded message to Pammy (wouldn’t want to be in the middle of an e-mail and have someone walk up behind me…and a phone call is simply out of the question!)

    There was a guy who used to pay his bills at his desk; struck me as being akin to clipping one’s nails in public.

  14. alex said on August 9, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Exhibitionist. Sounds like he’s got some issues. Your gut’s not telling you wrong, girl!

  15. Kirk said on August 9, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I was raised on the notion that my pay was no one else’s business and no one else’s pay was mine. I’d guess that this guy has some other undesirable personality traits.

  16. LA mary said on August 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    This is so depressing in so many ways. Maybe he’ll go away.

  17. Colleen said on August 9, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    My opinion is that nothing good ever comes from sharing salaries. It’s just a recipe for disaster. I’ve come across people’s pay stubs left out in public areas of the office, and I sweahtagawd I look at only enough info to know whose mailbox I need to put it in.

  18. MichaelG said on August 9, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Geez, I was going to make some smart remark or other about whatshisname until I read down to Mary’s post. Be careful, Mary. That’s about more than your respective salaries. You know the drill: polite smile, nod, keep your distance, etc. Maybe it’s nothing.

    Maybe I’m just hyper alert to this stuff. I love what I do, but I spend way too much time dodging management idiots. I’m old and crafty and experienced. I don’t know how young kids survive.

  19. Dorothy said on August 10, 2007 at 6:57 am

    I was raised like Kirk – your salary is your business only and no one else’s, and vice versa. It is creepy that he did that to you, Mary, and I think in some weird way he’s baiting you. For what exactly I don’t know, but I’d steer clear of him for awhile, and even if he point blank asks if you saw it, I’d deny, deny, deny!

    I don’t even get a paycheck actually – I’ve been a direct deposit fan ever since I got out of high school in 1975 and my first employer offered it. I can get my receipt on line if I need it.

  20. Rich B said on August 10, 2007 at 8:21 am

    He may be flirting with you in a machismo kind of way.

    Checks are mailed to our homes where I work, so great is the management’s fear of found out pay inequalities.

  21. LA mary said on August 10, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Nah, he’s not flirting. He’s got a young, blonde, trophy wife and a mid-life crisis Harley Davidson. He’s about my age (54) so there is no way he has any interest in me. He’s just unzipping and showing it to me, metaphorically.

  22. ellen said on August 10, 2007 at 11:41 am

    If he’s got a trophy wife and a Harley and still needs to show you his paycheck to validate his superiority, something else very key to his machismo must be very, very small.

  23. Jim said on August 10, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Being a public servant, anyone can look up my pay.

  24. Danny said on August 10, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Nancy, an interesting footnote to the Tour de France: Team Discovery, who was looking for a new sponsor, has elected instead to disband. And check Lance’s comment.

    Lance Armstrong has been intricately involved in the team both as a rider and as an owner.

    “I do not think you have seen the last of this organization in the sport but clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling,” added Armstrong, co-owner and seven-time Tour de France champion.

    Sounds to me like they decided to get out while the getting was good. With the increased scrutiny, chances are that if Disco did have some phenomenal, secret doping program, it would get exposed.

    I mean a team that won 8 of the last 9 Tours should have had no problem getting sponsorship.

  25. Mindy said on August 10, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I’ll bet he wanted to see your reaction and was hoping for a pained expression. He probably thinks he’s better than everyone in your labor camp and wanted you to see the proof.

  26. LA mary said on August 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    What’s really stupid is that I work in HR. I can see anyone’s salary if I want to. I need to look at salaries to calaculate how much I can offer to new hires, as we try to keep people with comparable experience in comparable jobs making comparable money. I don’t care what he makes, but I feel pretty creeped out that about what he did.

  27. deb said on August 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    mary, your boss is, at best, passive-aggressive and insecure. at worst, he’s…i dunno, but i don’t like it. tread carefully. normal people do not leave their pay stubs “accidentally” lying about, let alone move other items nearby to improve the view. he’s a dawg.

    i once dated a guy who PEERED INTO MY PURSE to read my paystub and then got pissed off because i had his old job and was making more money. served him right for snooping, the bum.

  28. LA mary said on August 10, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Discussing this with the two other people in this office he manages, we think insecurity is the key word. We all had little tales of creepiness, and there was a clear theme.

  29. Jim in Fla said on August 11, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Sounds to me like they decided to get out while the getting was good. With the increased scrutiny, chances are that if Disco did have some phenomenal, secret doping program, it would get exposed.

    Seems to me that if Disco did have some phenomemal, secret doping program, Landis wouldn’t have been caught last year.

  30. Danny said on August 11, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Jim, Landis did not ride for Disco last year. He rode for Phonak. The year prior he was on Dicsovery.

    And that touches on another interesting wrinkle. Besides Landis, there have been a few other prominent riders who have left Postal/Discovery for another team and then have gotten caught. Tyler Hamilton is one.

    And then there is the whole discussion of doping among the riders who are relatively unknown because they are not serious GC (general claissification) contenders. These riders are just trying to pay their bills by fulfilling there roles as “domestiques.” They are the workhorses of the team who ride back to the team car, stock up on food and liquids and then haul ass to the front to distribute to the rest of the team. They are also the guys who completely spend themselves to ride in the front and protect their main guy from wind and other riders.

    It is drudgery and since they don’t typically win stages, they are not typically tested. A lot of people conjecture that they are doped to the gills just to survive the ordeal of these long stage races.

    And before we forget about baseball, there is this from The Onion: Destruction Of National Pastime Given Two-Minute Standing Ovation.

    A couple of quotes:

    “Celebrations broke out throughout AT&T Park and thousands of flashbulbs went off as Bonds took his ceremonial trip around the bases, his arms raised in a jubilant gesture of triumph as he completed his desecration of baseball.”

    and…

    “Bonds then presented his helmet, gloves, and bat to a steward of the Baseball Hall of Fame for shipment to Cooperstown, where they will be enshrined forever, allowing fathers and sons to come and stare at them glumly as they bear mute witness to baseball’s diminished glory.”

  31. Jim in FL said on August 11, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Danny…You are correct. I forgot the Landis had switched to Phonak.

    In this case, though, I’m inclined to take LA at his word. Professional cycling doesn’t draw much fan interest in the States, especially since LA retired. I suspect that most US sponsors that can come up with the funds to support the team don’t see cycling as the best use of their advertising dollars. That will change when the next Armstrong or Le Mond emerges.